Culinary Arts Students Getting Real World Experience
By Tim Ashley
SYRACUSE — Hands-on, real-world type learning is a point of emphasis in schools. Giving students a chance to practice what they are learning and striving for.
At Wawasee High School, culinary arts students are getting an opportunity to experience in a real setting what they learn in a classroom. Beginning with the Dec. 3 boys basketball at home against Manchester, the Upper Deck Club was put in place.
Jon Everingham, varsity boys basketball head coach at Wawasee and also the director of the work-based learning program, said one of the assistant coaches, Scott Hetrick, thought it would be nice to have a restaurant with the culinary arts students in the Hardwood Tepee. “I ran with the idea,” Everingham said, noting it would enhance the fan experience and “show off” the culinary arts students.
He said once the concept was presented as a “full package” that could benefit the boys basketball program, athletics in general and also culinary arts, the administration agreed to allow it. Several details and safety issues had to be worked out first and “there was a lot of trial and error,” Everingham commented.
Nine sponsors are each sponsoring a four-person table for a total of 36 seats placed in the upper deck of the Hardwood Tepee during boys basketball games. Meals are paid for upfront by the sponsors and Everingham said they can choose to use the tables themselves or give them away to teachers, support staff or students.
The menu is based on what the culinary arts class is working on at the time in its curriculum. For now a few students are serving the food but beginning with the Jan. 7 game against NorthWood it will involve the entire class working on it together, said Dan Bauer, culinary arts instructor.
Plate service includes a salad, entree, side and dessert and it takes a minimum of six students at each game.
Staff will oversee the Upper Deck Club but “this is 100% student-led,” Everingham said. “They will gain experience and hands-on practice including preparation and serving food just like in a restaurant,” which typically involves doing things under pressure.
Keeping with the student-driven theme, Taylor Cripe, a senior student at Wawasee, is the event coordinator. “She will sign people in just like at a fancy restaurant,” Everingham noted, and Taylor will show people to their seats. She will do all of the scheduling and coordinating.
She said she has the time and “it is a good group to be a part of, I like working with the athletics program.” Taylor believes it will be a good work experience and “it is a job for me essentially,” though it is being done on her own time.
For now, the club is only being offered at home boys basketball games until the end of the season. “It’s a good fit,” Everingham said. “This is a pilot year and we will see how it works.”
Restaurant service is part of the culinary arts curriculum. Students do get other opportunities to practice what they learn but those are typically more catering-focused.